At the Nyaru Menteng centre women have been recruited from nearby villages in central Borneo to help the 650 orangutans as they move through nursery, Forest School One and Forest School Two. When fully ‘educated’ they are hopefully able to head out for a new life in the jungle.
The little apes are often driven out of the forest by loggers or killed by villagers who see them as pests. Sadly, surviving infants left clinging to their dead mothers are then sometimes sold as pets.
The centre was set up 12 years ago by Danish conservationist Lone Dröscher-Nielsen who came up with the new system to give the traumatised young apes the care they need to survive.
Orangutans share 97% of the same DNA as humans and often behave just like children. “They know we protect and take care of them,” 24-year-old sitter Mia Puspita told the Reader’s Digest. “When they want attention, they come to you with a pitiful face, cry for a touch or sit next to you and put their arm on your lap. But our greatest joy is to see baby orangutans smile.”
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